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It is Hereby Time to Use the "Replace" Function

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In 2003, I finally received a set of checks with a blank date line. After much crossing out of the 19___, my checks acknowledged the new millennium. In an attempt to save paper, business forms often are used well after they are obsolete.

The handiest tool to meet changing times is the word processing “replace” function. This year when you change dates, look at other aspects of your forms. Some governmental agencies have changed names. If your form requires INS compliance, you may be out of date AND vague. I recently received an application with a request for my wife’s name. A simple replace of “husband” to “spouse” and “wife” to “spouse” is a quick fix to sexist stereotypes and also acknowledges same-sex spouses.[1]

Look at contact information. If a telefax number is still requested, but there is no blank for an e-mail address, it may be time for an update. Also, look at all the locations where forms are stored. Oddly, the forms that are often out of date are the online forms. (I suspect this is because too many businesses outsource all Web content and have no means to update Web forms in-house.) Additional issues may arise if your online offer binds you to an out-of-date contract.

“Replace” is also a tool to trim legalese from your agreements. Words such as heretofore, thusly and aforesaid, and phrases such as "party of the first part" can be retired. UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh created a chart to interpret legalese which may help you expedite your simplification of these arcane obfuscations. As a rule, you can hereby eliminate hereby with no replacement.

I hereby say it is that easy.

I say it is that easy.

Christine Branstad

[1] If your forms also address domestic partners, you may need to gather additional information.

Until same-sex spouses are treated the same uniformly, be aware that tax implications and domestic partnership implications may vary.

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